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Teachers – the Bajan doormat

Sherwyn Walters

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I EN TOUCHING IT. That Alexandra ting. Don’t know enough to say who is right and who is wrong.
But I will say something ’bout you. Yes, you.
You jump in and start sharing licks, right? Just like the last time, the time before that, the time before that, and the time before that. Same position – unvarying. Teachers always wrong.
I lie? When did you ever say that teachers had a right to take action – and run yuh mout’ as loudly as yuh doing now?
How could a set of people who so presumably intelligent, knowledgeable, skilled, possessed of such wherewithal that you don’t want them to take a break from teaching your children get so dumb that they wrong every time – every single time – that they say “Thus far and no further”?
Don’t leh we mix matters. Teachers never get any broad support when they decide they will no longer tolerate something.
You come out of your hole as soon as teachers act up, but all along when, not infrequently, they are oppressed, downpressed, suppressed, run over by express trains (in the form of uncouth parents; uncooperative, rude and sometimes criminal-minded children; and autocratic bosses) carried through the hornpipe by the various stresses and stressors that are part of a teacher’s daily life), you say nothing.
You stand idly by as they are underpaid and overstretched.
But let them say they are going to withdraw their labour and you are at their throats.
Have you ever expressed deep appreciation for all the good that teachers do? How often do you see letters to the Press complimenting teachers? You ever write one?
Yuh writing another kind of letter now, though.
Less involved
As you, parent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, resident of the village (which they say it takes to raise a child) become less involved, do less volunteer work, less mentoring, less training, give less help, are less of an example, and thereby thrust more responsibility on the school, you still are not more appreciative of teachers who now have to pick up your slack.
You en got no shame?
I have seen teachers cry with caring, and I have done so myself. But although hundreds of teachers faithfully carry out their tasks, sacrificially in many instances, while seeing the less mission-critical, less qualified, less committed easily outstrip them in pay and prestige, you still almost instinctively jump on them every chance you get.
What does it say about you that these people that you would say do a very important job never can catch a break from you? What does it say about you?
Why is it that every time they sneeze (which is not often – in my view, nowhere near as often as they should), you are never earnestly looking to reduce the irritation? No, you usually want to rub their noses in it.
It is okay for aggrieved workers at the Transport Board or Tamarind Hotel or Trowel Plastics or Trimart or at Tisshoo to take action. They got rights. But not if they work at Teaching. De wrong T. The children, you say.
“The children gine suffer” – you, everybody and their mother pulling the children card.
Why should one set of people, because they deal with children, be the national doormat?
If the children matter so much, why isn’t proper treatment of teachers a priority?
In spite of claims that they are very important, there is no “Handle with care” for teachers. Still, as the society falls apart, citizens beg the same mistreated teachers to be in the forefront of putting it back together. Oh, the stench of hypocrisy.
So in the Alexandra matter, even if you think they are wrong, deal with them the way you routinely deal with those you say you value: find grace, find mitigation, find a way to say they are wrong while showing that you care for them. That’s what you do for those who really matter to you. You don’t seek to cut them down.
Now, lemme say this: even when I was a teacher, I was not a wholesale defender of my colleagues – not even of myself.
But I can’t stand the double-facedness, the ungratefulness, the unfairness, and the easy willingness to savage, time and again, a group of mostly honourable contributors to the national good.
Shamefully, there is no national regard for teachers, no sympathy, no empathy – that most noble of human emotions – only a certain waiting to pounce. What kind of person does that make you?
 • Sherwyn Walters is a writer who became a teacher, a song analyst, a broadcaster and an editor. Email [email protected]